THE voters’ roll that was used in the 23-24 August general elections was littered with inconsistencies, which has cast doubt over the polls’ credibility, an election watchdog, the Election Resource Centre, has noted.
During the launch of its research findings titled Understanding Zimbabwe’s Voting Trends in Harare on Thursday, the ERC noted that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announced that the number of voters stood at 6 623 511, which was 3 820 more voters than the 6 619 691 voters at the close of the roll in May 2023.
“The ERC notes inconsistencies and changes between voter figures announced by Zec chairperson on 25 August 2023 and those availed on the voters’ roll given candidates in violation of section 21 of the Electoral Act,” reads the report.
On 31 May 2023, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced, through a gazette, that the elections would be held on 23 August 2023.
At law, those participating in the election only have two days to register from proclamation date to election date.
“No person shall be registered as a voter for the purposes of voting at any Presidential election or election of members of the Parliament or councillors unless he or she lodges a claim for registration or transfer of registration under section 24 or 25 no later than the second day following the publication of proclamation referred to in section 38 or a notice referred to in section 39, as the case may be, in relation to that election,” reads section 26 of the Electoral Act.
Although the law is clear, Zec went on to announce the altered figure after voting had been completed.
Ahead of the elections, a pro-democracy advocacy group, Pachedu, had raised irregularities found in the voters’ roll but, instead of addressing them, Zec threatened to sue Pachedu whose only known address is an account on the social media platform X.
In one of its posts on X ahead of the elections, Pachedu pointed out Zec’s manipulation and distortion of the voters’ roll.
“This month, Zec illegally moved urban voters to different polling stations resulting in confusion. We received complaints on voting day from Marondera voters after Zec had secretly moved at least 560 voters from Mushakata to Chitanda Polling Station. Zec must explain,” read one of Pachedu’s posts on X, a month before the elections.
Zec announced the total number of registered voters was 6 623 511 on 25 August 2023, which shows that there was an increase of over 3 000 voters from the original roll given to candidates as the final roll ahead of the elections.
This is a direct violation of section 26 of the Electoral Act. Section 26 of the Electoral Act prohibits the addition of new voters’ to the roll beyond the stipulated cut-off date.